HK$230,000 - HK$280,000
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A pair of gilt-bronze and cloisonné enamel elephants
Each modelled standing with head turned to one side, the white body with gilt spots and a tasselled saddle cloth decorated with leafy stylised lotuses and fastened with colourfully enamelled trappings, the back with a saddle surmounted by an archaistic gu-shaped vase, decorated with a band of flowers between upright leaves and lotus lappets, in various bright tones of white, yellow, blue, red and green on a rich turquoise ground.
Each 32.5cm (13 3/4in) high (2).
During the Qing dynasty, it was customary to have elephants carrying vases with offerings on their backs during imperial processions for celebrating the emperor's birthday. The word elephant is a pun for 'sign', 象 xiang, and when combined with a vase, 瓶 ping, it forms the rebus 太平有象 taiping youxiang, which translates to 'when there is peace, there are signs'.
The auspicious imagery of an elephant carrying a vase was therefore very popular at court and used widely as a decorative motif in various mediums. For a number of examples of cloisonné enamel elephants carrying various types of vases, mid-Qing dynasty, see Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Enamels 4, Beijing, 2011, pls.84-86. See also footnote to Lot 51 in this sale.
See a pair of white cloisonné enamel elephants with gilt wires instead of spots, with zun-shaped vases flanked by foreigners, sold at Christie's New York, 24 March 2011, lot 1614. Compare also with another pair of cloisonné enamel elephants with tall zun-shaped vases with elephant handles, Qianlong/Jiaqing, sold at Sotheby's Paris, 12 June 2008, lot 375.